These are sad days for the Picasso of the Trade Machine. We're less than two weeks away from a seemingly unavoidable NBA lockout, which means no basketball, no basketball transactions, and most importantly, no canvas for me to paint my fake trades. It's an artistic tragedy along the lines of the Spider-Man musical and every expensive painting that went down with the Titanic. You also have to feel for the Trade Machine, which will spend the summer hanging out on ESPN.com like a bored housewife who never gets hit on, looking sad, wearing tight clothes, and flirting with the pool boy in a desperate attempt to get noticed. And we won't. Because there's no reason to make up fake NBA trades when nobody in the NBA can trade.
The good news: These next nine days will generate a whirlwind of trade activity, if only because a post-lockout salary cap world is The Great Unknown. Let's say you're Philadelphia. What if The Great Unknown makes it much harder to move Andre Iguodala? Don't you have to move him this month to be safe? Same for Minnesota, a team that owns the no. 2 overall pick and a variety of tradable assets that range from "Wait, HE'S available?" to "You could definitely talk me into him" to "I'll think about it, but can you mail me his latest urine sample first?"
All in all, 12 to 15 teams need to shake things up before July, allowing me to break out my Trade Machine canvas one last time. I added one wrinkle this time around, inspired by a reader named Brian in Chino, who believed my constant pimping of the "always trade three quarters for a dollar" analogy could go further. Brian suggested an actual money scale that determined the value of every player.
My first reaction was, "What a dumb idea, that's a total waste of time."
My second reaction was, "What a brilliant idea, that's a total waste of time!!!!"